I have wanted to ride the entire length of the B&A and the BWI trails in one trip for about a year and a half. Earlier this week, my friend Ken emailed me suggesting that we ride the two trails and so we made a plan to get out on the bikes on Saturday around 7:00 AM. Ken and I had never ridden together, but that turned out to be of little consequence. From my perspective at least, we seemed to be equally matched in terms of skills and pace so riding together turned out to be a lot of fun. Sometimes when you ride with someone you quickly learn that they are either faster or slower than you, or that they really don’t want to ride with you as much as meet up with you at rest stops. That’s a drag. That was not the experience with Ken.
I live about a mile from marker 5 on the B&A trail, so we left from my house at about 7:30 or so and headed north on the B&A. The B&A is relatively flat and straight. I’ve been riding it for two and a half years and know it well. In the past I’d never really carved out the time it would take to add the BWI trail to the ride and have usually turned around in Glen Burnie for a trip back down the trail. Once or twice, I’ve started on a little connector trail toward the BWI trail but I never had the guts to go for the rest of the ride. Having someone with you on a ride sure makes a difference.
Neither of us knew the BWI trail, and there are a few places where it’s not entirely clear where you should be going – better signage would be nice – but we made it around the Airport with only a few short detours. On the north east side of the trail there is a somewhat moderate to steep climb up a hill and being that we were approaching 20 miles, we were both hoping for a nice place to rest at the top. We were happy to find a few benches that gave us a nice view of the entire airport. It was pretty cool to be able to look at BWI from a distance. We relaxed for about 15 minutes and then hit the trail again, completing the loop and heading back down the B&A trail.
There is a Ranger Station at mile marker 7 on the B&A and we made the call there to ride to the end of the trail. It seemed like a really good idea at the time, but I’m here to say that when we were about 2 miles from the end of the trail I really started to feel it. This would have been around 32 miles. The last 8 were not quite a struggle, but I knew I was pushing myself. I started to feel a little pain in my left ankle (I was hearing a creaking in my left peddle on as well – seems like this must be connected) but luckilly it subsided within an hour of completing the ride.
All in all, it was a great ride and we finished at 40.5 miles. This gives me great hope for a successful MS ride in July when I plan to tackle 100 miles in a weekend.